By Kaira Esgate, executive director, Reimagining Service
For the past 18 months, Reimagining Service has partnered with CaliforniaVolunteers (the state service commission in California), Points of Light, and seven HandsOn Network affiliates/volunteer centers to develop the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative (CVSEI). Funding to launch and grow this effort was provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service through its Volunteer Generation Fund. Through this pilot initiative, HandsOn Network affiliates/volunteer centers support local nonprofits in completing a comprehensive assessment, training and consulting model that leads to nonprofits reimagining the way they strategically engage volunteers as well as earning certification as a Service Enterprise.
To date, 76 California nonprofits have met certification requirements and/or have completed the training and consulting portion of the model. Initial six-month follow-up data from nonprofits participating in the initiative is positive:
- 60% of nonprofits increased the number of volunteers engaged;
- 50% of nonprofits increased the number of skills-based volunteers engaged;
- 52% of nonprofits increased the number of service hours donated; and,
- 57% of nonprofits increased the number of service hours donated by skills-based volunteers.
Further, participating nonprofits speak highly of their experience with the initiative:
- “Since we started along this process, it helped bring even more overt awareness to how many different opportunities there are to engage volunteers to help us sustain our efforts and further reach our goals.”
- We have an “increased emphasis on using volunteer support beyond our core program.”
- “We have really started to evaluate how we can utilize skills-based volunteers throughout the organization. This is beyond our normal scope of volunteer work that we utilize on a daily basis for many of the tasks around the distribution center. This will certainly add value to the organization as we go forward and identify new opportunities.”
- “We are exploring ways to open up new areas to volunteers that were previously restricted to staff and examining ways to think outside of the box when it comes to volunteer engagement.”
With the success of the California pilot, Points of Light (POL) is leading the charge to expand the model nationwide. Through a recently held national Train-the-Trainer event, 11 additional HandsOn Network affiliates including HandsOn Suburban Chicago , working in partnership with five state service commissions have been trained to deliver the model in their local communities. As a result, it is anticipated that by October 2014 an additional 210 nonprofits nationwide will have completed the training and consulting model and/or have been certified as a Service Enterprise. As part of its expansion of this work, POL will develop a national certification registry that will highlight nonprofits nationwide meeting the certification standard.